My Bodyguard movie review & film summary (1980) | Roger Ebert (2024)


My Bodyguard movie review & film summary (1980) | Roger Ebert (1)

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There is a terrifying moment in adolescence when suddenly some of the kids are twice as big as the rest of the kids. It is terrifying for everybody: For the kids who are suddenly tall and gangling, and for the kids who are still small and are getting beat up all the time. My Bodyguard places that moment in a Chicago high school and gives us a kid who tries to think his way out of it.

The kid's name is Clifford. He has everything going againsthim. He's smart, he's new in the school, he's slightly built. As he's played byChris Makepeace, he is also one of the most engaging teen-age characters I'veseen in the movies in a long time. Too many movie teen-agers have beensex-crazed ("Little Darlings"), animalistic food-fighters ("Meatballs"), orhopelessly romanticized ("The Blue Lagoon"). Clifford is basically just yournormal, average kid.


He has just moved to Chicago with his family.His father (Martin Mull) is the new resident manager of the Ambassador EastHotel. His grandmother (Ruth Gordon) hangs out in the lobby and picks up oldmen in the bar. Life is great, backstage at a hotel (he gets his meals in thekitchen or some-times in the Pump Room). But it's not so great at school. Themovie sends Clifford to Lake View High School, where he's immediately shakendown for his lunch money.

The extortionist (Matt Dillon) is the kind ofkid we all remember from high school. He's handsome in an oily way, he's goingthrough a severe case of adolescent sadism, he's basically a coward. His threatis that unless Clifford pays protection money, he'll sic the dreaded Lindermanon him.

Linderman (Adam Baldwin) is a school legend, abig, hulking kid who allegedly killed his brother, raped a teacher, hit a cop,you name it. The movie's inspiration is to have Clifford think his way out ofhis dilemma neutralizing Linderman by hiring him as a bodyguard. This isgenius, and there's a wonderful scene where Clifford springs Linderman on therest of the kids.

Then the movie takes an interesting turn.Clifford and Linderman become friends, and we learn some of the unhappy factsof Linderman's life. It turns out Linderman isn't the Incredible Hulk after allhe's just another kid going through growing pains and some personal tragedy.This whole middle stretch is the best part of the movie, developing afriendship in a perceptive and gentle way that's almost shocking in comparisonwith the idiotic, violent teen-agers so many movies have given us.

The ending is predictable (it's a showdownbetween Linderman and another tough kid). And there are some distractions alongthe way from Clifford's family. Martin Mull makes an interesting hotel manager,whimsical and charming. But the movie gets off track when it follows RuthGordon through some of her adventures, including a romantic collision with ahotel executive played by John Houseman. These scenes just don't seem part ofthe same movie: The hotel stuff is sitcom, while the stuff in the high schoolis fresh and inventive.


That seems to apply to the performances, too.One of the strengths of “My Bodyguard” is in the casting of the younger performersChris Makepeace, Adam Baldwin, Matt Dillon. They look right for their parts,but, more to the point, they feel right. Dillon exudes creepiness, Makepeace isplausible while thinking on his feet, Linderman is convincingly vulnerable andconfused, and there's another kid, the solemn-faced, wide-eyed Paul Quandt, whosteals a couple of scenes with his absolute certainty that the worst is yet tocome.

“My Bodyguard” is a small treasure, a movieabout believable characters in an unusual situation. It doesn't pretend to beabsolutely realistic, and the dynamics of its big city high school aresimplified for the purposes of the story. But this movie is fun to watchbecause it touches memories that are shared by most of us, and because itsyoung characters are recognizable individuals, and not simplified cartoonfigures like so many movie teen-agers.

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Film Credits

My Bodyguard movie review & film summary (1980) | Roger Ebert (9)

My Bodyguard (1980)

Rated PG

97 minutes


Martin Mullas Mr. Peache

Ruth Gordonas Gramma

John Housemanas Dobbs

Craig Richard Nelsonas Griffith

Paul Quandtas Carson

Adam Baldwinas Linderman

Matt Dillonas Moody

Chris Makepeaceas Clifford

Produced by

  • Don Devlin

Screenplay by

  • Alan Ormsby

Directed by

  • Tony Bill

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My Bodyguard movie review & film summary (1980) | Roger Ebert (2024)


What is the 1980 movie My Bodyguard about? ›

What happens at the end of my bodyguard? ›

Ironic Echo: At the end, after Clifford has triumphed over Moody, and Linderman beats Moody's Psycho for Hire, Linderman asks Clifford to be his bodyguard, using the same lines Clifford used when he asked him.

Who is the grandmother in my bodyguard? ›

Clifford is basically just your normal, average kid. He has just moved to Chicago with his family. His father (Martin Mull) is the new resident manager of the Ambassador East Hotel. His grandmother (Ruth Gordon) hangs out in the lobby and picks up old men in the bar.

Where was the 1980 movie My Bodyguard filmed? ›

Production. The film was shot on location in Chicago with Lake View High School providing the setting for the film's fictional Fleer H.S. The hotel that Clifford lives in and which is managed by his father is the real life Ambassador East (now known as the Ambassador Hotel) at 1301 North State Parkway.

Who was the killer in The Bodyguard? ›

Type of Villain

Gregory "Greg" Portman is the main antagonist of the 1992 film The Bodyguard. He was portrayed by Tomas Arana, who also played Mason Cole in Derailed.

What is the premise of bodyguard? ›

Main. Richard Madden as PS David Budd, a Scottish veteran of the Afghanistan war and now dedicated Principal Protection Officer (PPO) at Protection Command. His wartime experiences have left him struggling with PTSD, prone to volatile behaviour, and mistrustful of politicians.

What happens to the sister in The Bodyguard? ›

Nikki now believes that it is her fault that all of this has happened, and Frank comforts her and promises to catch the stalker. Soon afterward the stalker breaks into the cabin and approaches Nicki. She believes that it's Frank, but screams in terror as the stalker fatally stabs her ("Nicki's Death).

Who is the kid in my bodyguard? ›

Clifford Peache (Chris Makepeace) is a sensitive, well-to-do teen who becomes the target of bully Melvin Moody (Matt Dillon) after he starts attending a new school. Tired of being picked on, Clifford recruits brooding tough kid Ricky Linderman (Adam Baldwin) to be his bodyguard.

Who falls in love in The Bodyguard? ›

Subsequently, and possibly as a result of his protection and the trust thus inspired, Rachel Marron falls in love with Frank, and, though he tries to keep their relationship professional, they sleep together.

Is My Bodyguard a good movie? ›

An outstanding teen movie, it launched the careers of Joan Cusack, Adam Baldwin, and in a tiny and unfortunately uncredited role, Jennifer Beals. The adults also shine in their roles (especially Ruth Gordon, in one of her last screen appearances). The story holds up and is believable.

What happened to Chris Makepeace? ›

He has not appeared in any films since 2001, moving instead behind the camera as an assistant director.

Who was Hightower in My Bodyguard? ›

My Bodyguard (1980) - Dean R. Miller as Hightower - IMDb.

Is The Bodyguard movie based on a true story? ›

The Bodyguard stars Kevin Costner as Frank Farmer, a former Secret Service agent assigned to protect singer Rachel Marron, played by the talented Whitney Houston. 2. Is The Bodyguard based on a true story? No, The Bodyguard is not based on a true story.

Did the sister hire the killer in The Bodyguard? ›

It is then revealed that Rachel's obsessive stalker and the person trying to kill her are not the same person, when an upset and drunken Nikki admits that in a drug-induced jealous fit she hired a hitman to kill Rachel, but that the letters from the stalker came before that.

Who was the bully in My Bodyguard? ›

Clifford Peache (Chris Makepeace) is a sensitive, well-to-do teen who becomes the target of bully Melvin Moody (Matt Dillon) after he starts attending a new school.


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